Meet the Speaker: Flip Petillion

Flip Petillion

Flip Petillion is a litigation partner at Crowell & Moring Brussels. With more than 25 years of experience, Flip’s practice has been devoted to IP, IT, media and communication, with a heavy emphasis on International Dispute Resolution, IP litigation and counseling for corporate clients in various industries. Flip co-chairs the TLD and Domain Names practice that advises on TLD applications and represents clients in disputes on new extensions.  Flip is arbitrator and panelist with WIPO, NAF, CAC (Czech Arbitration Court) and CEPANI (Belgium’s Arbitration and Mediation Center). He is an official mediator with Cepina and WIPO. Flip received his J.D. from K.U.Leuven University, magna cum laude, in 1987 and was admitted to the Brussels bar in 1988. Flip also obtained postgraduates in international economic law, Dubrovnik University, 1988; in telecommunications law, K.U.Leuven University, 1998; in telecommunications, strategy and regulation, Ghent University, 1999. Flip regularly speaks on various IP and IT topics and has published several articles. He is on the editorial board of IRDI and is chief editor of RABG, two leading Belgian law journals.  Flip is member of various national and international IP associations, including INTA and MARQUES.

Tell us about yourself: 

I received my J.D. from K.U.Leuven University, magna cum laude, in 1987. I also obtained postgraduates in international economic law, in telecommunications law, in telecommunications, strategy and regulation. I regularly lecture on various IP and IT topics and have published several articles. I am on the editorial board of IRDI and is chief editor of RABG, two leading Belgian law journals. In my spare time, I like to play golf and enjoy a nice glass of wine in my garden. Once a year, I try to take a week off to discover beautiful landscapes across Europe.

What is a day like in your field? 

There’s no such thing as a ‘typical’ day in my field. Not a single day is the same. As the Chair of the Brussels IP practice, I regularly have meetings with my team members about ongoing matters in a variety of fields. I regularly have conference calls with clients and study files in which I act as counsel or arbitrator. In the evening I try to work on publications and presentations. Today, I’m speaking at ACI’s conference about license termination and contract re-negotiation. Tomorrow, I’ll review my colleagues’ contributions to a publication on my flight back to Brussels.

What do you like about working at your company?  

As I just pointed out, no single day is the same and this variety is exactly what appeals to me the most. Crowell & Moring Brussels has a strong Belgian and European client base, and our US offices give me the opportunity to cross the ocean for professional purposes. My colleagues are all outstanding legal practitioners and there’s a good atmosphere between the people in Brussels, London and the US.

What would you change in the industry?  

The industry is constantly changing. Nowadays, we witness that parties are becoming more and more litigation adverse, while being increasingly demanding. This sometimes creates tension between contracting parties. If agreements are not rightly balanced, parties often spend too much effort in patching up a deal gone bad, rather than in focusing on the underlying frustrations. Such can be avoided by focusing on balanced and pragmatic escalation clauses.

What is the tip/best practice you would like to share with your peers?

My best practice is related to this, namely plan for termination when negotiating the deal. This may seem counter-intuitive, but in a rapidly changing society, everybody knows that a contract will end one day. You better be prepared for that day. Termination clauses are often neglected during contract negotiations, because everyone is excited about starting with the new project. However, it is much easier to agree on escalation procedures at the start of a project than when a deal has gone bad and parties are positioning themselves in their trenches. Therefore, the first question that I ask myself when negotiating a deal is: “How will I ensure continuity when the deal ends?” This is often more important than defining the exact scope of the agreement at the start of the agreement. Indeed, a contracting party will more easily agree to add more services to a deal than to grant you more rights when you want to walk away. Therefore, don’t sign a deal if you don’t know how to walk away from it.